Article

January 2015

Analysis of the Current Employment Statistics program using customer outreach survey results

The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducted a customer outreach survey in early 2014 to evaluate customer satisfaction with the program, which produces monthly estimates of employment, hours, and earnings using payroll records from a sample of business establishments. CES data users reported being most interested in major industry and industry sector employment from the CES program. More users are interested in statewide data than in national data. Additionally, users prefer news releases and BLS databases to obtain CES data and information over other CES products, such as Current Employment Statistics Highlights, Monthly Labor Review articles, and technical notes. The overwhelming majority of CES data providers reported that they are unfamiliar with the CES program and its outputs. Overall, however, CES stakeholders are satisfied with the quality and quantity of the CES data and publications, revisions, and customer service.

The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was selected by the BLS Division of Management Services to participate in an internal program review. As part of this review, the CES program—which produces monthly estimates on employment, hours, and earnings using payroll records from a sample of business establishments—conducted an outreach survey in early 2014 of its stakeholders to gauge customer satisfaction of the program’s outputs and measurements. This article discusses the survey design and the classification of data users, and focuses on the analysis of data users’ survey responses.

Survey design

The outreach survey was designed in late 2013 by upper-level CES management and the statistical research methods staff in the BLS Office of Survey Methods Research. The survey was made available to the public on January 6, 2014. It included 34 questions asking users about CES data and outputs as well as the CES program’s customer service. (See appendix table A-1 for a list of survey questions.) The survey was available for public response for approximately 6 weeks; it closed on February 19, 2014. In that time, a total of 8,867 people responded to the survey.

CES prompted both known CES data users and CES data providers1 via email to take the survey. In addition, a link to the survey was provided on the public CES home page, www.bls.gov/ces. So that we could meaningfully analyze the responses, people who responded to the survey were divided into CES data users and CES data providers.2 Because the outreach survey participants were not directly asked whether they were data users or data providers, they were classified into a category on the basis of their responses to the survey questions. We performed additional analysis on the two groups of outreach survey respondents to verify that the results were what was expected given the classification. This classification resulted in 3,083 data users and 5,784 data providers.

Profiling data users

With more than 3,000 survey respondents classified as data users (regardless of whether they use CES data or only other data), we wanted a further distinction between users to aid in analyzing the survey results. So, data users were classified as either basic, intermediate, or super users (explained below) and additionally as state-and-area data users, national data users, or users of both state-and-area and national data.

Classification of data users. The basic, intermediate, or super user classification—or BIS—is a distinct classification, with each user assigned to only one of these classifications. Users answered questions that indicated whether they had characteristics of a basic, intermediate, or super user of CES data. The set of questions used to classify the data users were about types of information accessed, data revisions, historical data, and the use of similar data not produced by BLS. (See appendix table A-2 for detailed question-and-answer classification information.)

We finalized the BIS user classification by assigning the maximum classification identified across each of the question–answer pairings. BIS user status, for each outreach respondent classified as a data user, was identified by each question-answer pairing by the following scale:

  • 1 indicates basic users
  • 2 indicates intermediate users
  • 3 indicates super users

Data users are split fairly evenly across the three different classifications. (See table 1.)

Table 1. User status of respondents to the Current Employment Statistics customer outreach survey
User statusNumberPercent
1: Basic users1,05034.1
2: Intermediate users1,14037.0
3: Super users89329.0
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State-and-area and national user classification. In addition to being classified as basic, intermediate, or super users, users were classified into state-and-area data users and national data users. These classifications, unlike the BIS classifications, are not distinct; a user can be classified as a state-and-area data user and as a national data user. State users were identified by keywords in any open-ended response portion of questions and by responses to this question: “Which level of geographic detail do you use for CES data?” National users were identified solely by their responses to the question.

A total of 1,564 data users were classified as state-and-area data users and 625 data users were classified as national data users. Throughout the analysis, state-and-area and national user opinions are presented separately when the two diverge.

Analyzing stakeholders’ survey responses

An analysis of responses to the first few survey questions underscores that the surveyed data users use many of the CES data products available to them. The large majority of data users are interested in employment data, with data about women employees used more frequently than data about production employees. Hours and earnings data are used moderately, while diffusion indexes and indexes of aggregate hours are not used often and are mostly used by super users. (See figure 1.) Additionally, major and industry sectors are the most used levels of industry detail across all users.

In terms of geographic detail, statewide data are the most frequently used; national data are used at about half the frequency of statewide data, and metropolitan-area data are used even less. (See figure 2.) Numerous users commented that they would prefer more granular geographic data, such as at a county or zip code level.

News releases and BLS databases are the most frequently used CES publications or files by all data users. By the criteria we employed to classify users, basic users rarely use other publications or files provided by CES. In addition to using news releases and BLS databases, intermediate users frequently use tables and charts as well as the Current Employment Statistics Highlights. Super users use all products frequently with the exception of the strike report. (See table 2.) Some users noted that they use external sources to get CES data, such as the ADP National Employment Report and the St. Louis Federal Reserve Board’s Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) database.3

Table 2. Publications and databases used by Current Employment Statistics customer outreach survey respondents
Publication or databaseType of user
Basic usersIntermediate usersSuper users
News releases114258393
Tables and charts0174260
BLS databases222369415
BLS text flat data files214898
Technical notes0080
Special notices33080
CES Highlights0111155
Strike report1123
Monthly Labor Review articles00310
Frequently asked questions2767115
Other223728
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data users largely want CES data for personal interest reasons. Intermediate users employ the data for short- and long-term forecasting, economic research, and educational uses. Along with the uses identified by intermediate users, super users often use CES data in business cycle analysis, financial markets modeling and forecasting, economic policy analysis and planning, and news reporting. (See table 3.)

Table 3. How Current Employment Statistics data are used by customer outreach survey respondents
What data are used forType of user
Basic usersIntermediate usersSuper users
Short and long term forecasts23163308
Business cycle analysis2183219
Financial markets modeling and forecasting625118
Economic policy analysis and planning639145
Revenue forecasting104095
News reporting1050114
Economic research20107240
Educational uses35116146
Business location planning43658
Contract escalation31522
Personal interest44191224
Other8814363
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How and how often are users accessing CES data? The overwhelming majority of data users access CES data from the BLS website. Intermediate and super users also access data via email or phone requests to BLS staff and state labor market information websites. Very few users identified “private data supplier/ repackager” or social media as ways they access the data.

By definition, super users access CES data far more frequently than their intermediate and basic user counterparts. Only 11 percent of super users had not accessed the data from BLS website in the last 12 months. About 58 percent of super users had accessed the data at least six times in the last year. Approximately 80 percent of intermediate users accessed the data at least once in the last year, but none accessed the data more than 12 times. Basic users accessed CES data very infrequently, none more than five times per year and many noting they hadn’t accessed CES data at all in the past 12 months.

Most users do not need or want to be notified when BLS releases CES data and publications, and those who do want or need to be notified prefer to be notified by BLS News Service emails. CES currently offers an email service to users when updates to the CES program are made; users can sign up on the CES home page by adding their email address in the “Subscribe to the CES update” box on the left side below the navigation links.4

Which measures of changes over time are useful? CES data, which is published by level rather than percent, can be used to calculate changes, such as over-the-month changes. Determining which measurements of changes over time are considered useful by data users is important for answering whether CES is providing the most useful calculations. The CES program asked data users about the analytical usefulness of the following measures: over-the-month change in level, over-the-month change in percent, over-the-year change in level, over-the-year change in percent, and current level.

The majority of super users find each of these measures at least somewhat useful. Intermediate users are split between the usefulness of these measures, and most basic users find the measures either not useful or they report having no basis on which to decide.

Additionally, users mentioned they are interested in measures of the change in the data from the most recent peak or trough (or another anchor point) as well as quarterly levels, quarterly changes, and average changes over the past few months.

Are users satisfied with revisions to CES data? To reflect the receipt of additional sample data and other information, the CES program revises each month of data several times. To provide a preliminary estimate of employment, the program publishes initial monthly estimates before all the reports have been sent in by participating businesses. When more reports have been received, a revised or updated set of statistics is published. Additional revisions are made to adjust the data for seasonal variations and the annual benchmark process, which ties the survey results to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.5

As would be expected, the intermediate and super users are more familiar with the revisions to the CES data than basic users, and super users are the most knowledgeable. (See figure 3.) All basic users either skipped this question or answered that they were “not at all knowledgeable.”

Because basic users are not knowledgeable about the revisions to CES data, the following analysis will focus on the intermediate and super users’ responses to the revisions questions.

Far more data users, both intermediate and super, noted that revisions improve the quality of CES data than the number who noted that revisions lower the quality. Of those that said revisions improve the quality (352 intermediate users and 472 super users), a large portion of the intermediate users (about 70 percent) said the revisions either somewhat improve quality or improve quality a great deal and the vast majority (about 80 percent) of super users noted that the revisions either somewhat improve quality or improve quality a great deal. Both state-and-area users and national users have similar opinions of how the revisions improve data quality.

Of the data users who said it lowers the quality (27 intermediate users and 30 super users), about 75 percent of intermediate users and about 95 percent of super users noted that it lowers the quality somewhat or a great deal. More state-and-area users stated that revisions lower data quality a great deal, somewhat, or a little than did national users.

Data users responded similarly for both seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted data when asked about the acceptability and appropriateness of the number of times each set of data were revised. Most intermediate users neither agree nor disagree that the number of seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted revisions is acceptable and appropriate. The majority of the remainder either agree or strongly agree, with only a few disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that the number of revisions is appropriate. Over half of super users agree or strongly agree that the number of both seasonally and not seasonally adjusted revisions is acceptable and appropriate as is. A small minority of super users disagree that the revisions are acceptable. (See table 4.)

Table 4. Responses to the Current Employment Statistics (CES) customer outreach survey statement, “The number of revisions to CES data is an acceptable and appropriate amount”
Type of adjustment and user classificationStrongly agreeAgreeNeither agree nor disagreeDisagreeStrongly disagree
Not seasonally adjusted revisions734395658710
Intermediate users8127289272
Super users65312276608
Seasonally adjusted revisions71495555394
Intermediate users815028780
Super users63345268314
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data users were then asked to identify whether fewer or more revisions to the seasonally adjusted data would be helpful and whether revisions of any kind would be problematic for their analyses. The majority of both the intermediate and super users neither agreed nor disagreed with having additional revisions made to seasonally adjusted data. That said, super users are more interested than intermediate users in having more revisions to CES seasonally adjusted data to assist in data analysis. Similarly, for both groups of users, the majority of users do not have an opinion either way when it comes to fewer seasonally adjusted revisions. However, more super users are interested in fewer revisions than are intermediate users. (See table 5.) Very few users in either classification noted that revisions of any kind would be problematic to their analysis.

Table 5. Responses to the Current Employment Statistics customer outreach statement, “More revisions to the data would be helpful for my analyses”
Type of adjustment and user classificationStrongly agreeAgreeNeither agree nor disagreeDisagreeStrongly disagree
Not seasonally adjusted revisions3925772410817
Intermediate users360344350
Super users361973807317
Seasonally adjusted revisions2319875711916
Intermediate users155340300
Super users221434178916
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, CES data users with knowledge of revisions find that the revisions do improve data quality. There was no overwhelming call to have more or fewer revisions to the data; some users would prefer more and some would prefer fewer, but across most responses, users did not have strong opinions either way.

Would users be interested in additional versions of CES data? Currently, the CES program provides data users with only the currently published versions of the data in the LABSTAT databases. In order for data users to access previously published versions of the data (that is, the data prior to the most recent revisions), users must look through old press releases and gather that information release by release.

To determine whether data users would find easier access to previous versions of data useful, the question was posed in the survey. Both intermediate and super users identified that access to data as originally published would be a little useful, somewhat useful, or very useful (about 57 percent of intermediate users, about 76 percent of super users). About 6 percent of intermediate users and about 19 percent of super users responding said that previous versions of data would be very useful. (See table 6.) Clearly, data users are interested in easier access to previous versions of CES data, and BLS plans to release vintage CES data to address this need in 2015.

Table 6. Responses to the Current Employment Statistics (CES) customer outreach survey question, “How useful would it be to you to have access to some, or all, earlier versions of historical CES data as originally published, in addition to the currently available revised data?”
UsefulnessIntermediate usersSuper users
NumberPercentNumberPercent
Very useful24613519
Somewhat useful882023934
A little useful1333116323
Not at all useful93218913
No opinion or not sure96226810
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are users satisfied with accessing data and publications? The CES program provides data to its data users via numerous products, including

  • data in databases
  • research articles
  • news releases
  • documentation of methods and processes

CES attempts to provide each of these outputs to users in a way that is easy to access and understand. In order to evaluate whether CES is meeting its goal, the outreach survey asked data users about each of these outputs.

Intermediate and super users identified that data are available for the geographic areas they require; basic users did not have a basis on which to decide. Similar results were reported for available industry sectors, ease of downloading, file format availability, and finding data release schedules.

Super users noted that articles and research summaries are available on topics that interest them; basic users did not have a basis on which to decide and intermediate users were unsure. Intermediate users were more unsure (neither agree nor disagree) of whether these articles and research summaries are easy to understand than were the super users.

The uncertainty seen among intermediate users in the previous analysis is different across the state-and-area and national classification. Looking at the intermediate users within each of these classifications, we see that state-and-area users are more uncertain of the availability of articles and research summaries than are the national users. The difference between those who agree that articles and research summaries are available and those who neither agree nor disagree is much larger for state-and-area users than national users. A similar pattern is seen regarding the understanding of these articles and research summaries.

Like with articles and research summaries, far more intermediate and super users agree that news releases and documentation explaining industry employment concepts, sources, and methods are easy to understand and provide useful information than disagree, though intermediate users are more unsure (neither agree nor disagree) in both cases than super users are. Basic users report not having a basis on which to decide.

Data users who don’t use CES data. In order to increase the number of CES users, we must understand why some people don’t use the data. Compared with the entirety of data users who responded to this survey, few marked that they do not use CES data and the majority of these are classified as basic users. Of those who responded to this survey and don’t use CES data, some said that the “data are difficult to locate/BLS CES-related web pages are difficult to navigate” or data are not available for the industry or sector they require. Many also said that they were unaware of the data or the data have no application to their work. (See figure 4.)

Are users satisfied with the customer service? The CES office tries its best to respond to user questions by phone and email in a courteous and timely manner. Economists are assigned shifts throughout the month to help answer data users’ questions as they come in. To gauge whether the program is succeeding at its goal of good customer service, users were asked about their experience with CES staff.

Of the users who answered they had contacted CES staff for help with CES data (which is about a quarter of the users who answered the question), the vast majority contacted CES via telephone call. The website (“contact us” link) and direct email were used fairly equally, though at a much lower rate than telephone call within each user classification. (See figure 5.) The overwhelming majority of those who contacted BLS staff said the response was timely and that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the reply. (See figure 6.)

In an open-ended response, the majority of responses were positive, with users mentioning that CES staff were knowledgeable, helpful, and polite during the interaction; few users mentioned negative interactions with staff.

Do CES users also use other industry employment data? About 15 percent of users who responded to this question identified that they do use other sources of industry employment data. The following is a list of other industry employment data sources that were mentioned: ADP, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, Current Population Survey (particularly the unemployment rate), Business Employment Dynamics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Moody’s, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Labor Market Information, Economic Research Institute, Federal Reserve, Global Insight, Industrial Supply Association, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Bloomberg, FRED, County Business Patterns, Haver, Towers Watson, Hay, and Sullivan Cotter.

What is the affiliation of the users? A large majority of the data-user respondents to this survey consider themselves part of private business. In addition, numerous data users categorized themselves as part of “other.” Data users from state and local government and industry and trade association classifications were also well represented. (See table 7.)

Table 7. Responses to the Current Employment Statistics customer outreach survey question, “Which category below best describes the organization at which you work or study?”
Organization or other classificationType of user
Basic usersIntermediate usersSuper users

University

103028

Research organization

4631

Financial institution

152032

News media

144

U.S. government

51234

State government

2346116

Local government

92184129

Chamber of Commerce

011

Non-U.S. government or international organization

71112

Industry or trade association

387485

Labor union

31011

Data supplier or repackager

012

Internet blog

028

Private citizen

21628

Private business not listed above

237317204

Other

153219129

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Open-ended feedback. The final question on the survey asked data users to provide additional comments and open-ended feedback. Numerous data users mentioned that the BLS website is difficult to use, especially when it comes to downloading data for multiple series into Microsoft Excel. Some users suggested that templates, tools, or both be provided for obtaining large amounts of data. Furthermore, users are interested in accessing the microdata and in obtaining more information about the month-to-month revisions: what the revisions were, when they occurred, and why the data were revised.

Additionally, some users expressed their desire for more geographic breakouts and for vintage data. Regarding state and area series, users mentioned, for instance, separating mining and logging from construction in all states, adding residential versus nonresidential construction, and benchmarking data quarterly.

Many users commented that they were very satisfied with the work done in CES and thanked BLS and CES for performing the outreach survey. CES has taken all responses into consideration regarding how the program can be improved in the future.

Data providers. In an effort to understand data providers’ knowledge of the CES program, prompts were sent to them to participate in this customer outreach survey. Our analysis finds that the overwhelming majority of CES data providers are unfamiliar with the CES program and its outputs. This, paired with other feedback received from the survey, is being used to improve the data providers’ experience.6

Appendix table A-1. Current Employment Statistics (CES) customer outreach survey questions and response options

1. Which BLS Current Employment Statistics data have you used? (Check all that apply)

Employment (all employees)
Production and nonsupervisory employees
Women employees
Average hourly or weekly earnings
Average weekly hours
Indexes of aggregate weekly hours or payrolls
Diffusion indexes
I have not used BLS CES data
Other (please specify)

2. Which level of industry detail do you use for CES data? (Check all that apply)

Major sectors (total nonfarm, private, government, goods-producing, service-providing)
Industry sectors (for example, mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, other services, and government)
Detailed industries within industry sectors (for example, motor vehicles and parts, temporary help services, health care, and food services and drinking places)
Other (please specify)

3. Which level of geographic detail do you use for CES data? (Check all that apply)

National
Statewide
Metropolitan Statistical Area (for example, Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana, Miami–Fort Lauderdale–Pompano Beach, and New York–Northern New Jersey–Long Island)
Metropolitan Division (for example Los Angeles–Long Beach–Glendale, Miami–Miami Beach–Kendall, and New York–White Plains–Wayne)
Other (please specify)

4. Which CES publications or files do you use? (Check all that apply)

News releases (Employment Situation, Real Earnings, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment, and Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment)
Tables and charts (including online tables, analytical tables, etc.)
BLS databases
BLS text/flat data files
Technical notes
Special notices
CES Highlights
Strike Report
Monthly Labor Review articles
Frequently asked questions
Other (please specify)

5. How do you use BLS CES data? (Check all that apply)

Short- and long-term forecasts
Business cycle analysis
Financial markets modeling and forecasting
Economic policy analysis and planning
Revenue forecasting
News reporting
Economic research
Educational uses
Business location planning
Contract escalation
Personal interest
Other (please specify)

6. How have you obtained BLS CES data? (Check all that apply)

BLS website
Email or phone request to BLS staff
Private data supplier/repackager
News media
Social media
State labor market information website(s)
Other (please specify)

7. How often have you accessed CES data from the BLS website in the past 12 months?

1–5 times
6–12 times
I haven’t accessed CES data from the BLS website in the past 12 months
More than 12 times
 

8. How would you prefer to be notified when BLS releases CES data and publications? (Check all that apply)

I do not want, or need, to be notified
BLS News Service emails
BLS online calendar for news releases
RSS feeds
Twitter
Facebook (not currently available)
Other (please specify)

9. How useful are each of the following measures to you when you analyze CES data?

a. Over-the-month change in level

A little useful
Not at all useful
Not sure what this is
Somewhat useful
Very useful

b. Over-the-month percent change

A little useful
Not at all useful
Not sure what this is
Somewhat useful
Very useful

c. Over-the-year change in level

A little useful
Not at all useful
Not sure what this is
Somewhat useful
Very useful

d. Over-the-year percent change

A little useful
Not at all useful
Not sure what this is
Somewhat useful
Very useful

e. Current level (e.g., of employment)

A little useful
Not at all useful
Not sure what this is
Somewhat useful
Very useful

10. Do you think the process of revising the data improves or lowers its quality?

Don’t know
Has no effect on quality
Improves quality
Lowers quality

11. How much do revisions improve the quality of the CES data?

A great deal
A little
Don’t know
None
Somewhat

12. How much do revisions lower the quality of the CES data?

A great deal
A little
Don’t know
None
Somewhat

13. How would you rate your knowledge of the revisions made to CES data?

A little knowledgeable
Not at all knowledgeable
Somewhat knowledgeable
Very knowledgeable

14. The number of revisions to data that are not seasonally adjusted is an acceptable and appropriate amount.

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

15. The number of revisions to seasonally adjusted data is an acceptable and appropriate amount.

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

16. More revisions to seasonally adjusted data—i.e., revising more than 2 months of seasonally adjusted data each month using updated seasonal factors—would be helpful for my analyses.

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Appendix table A-1. Current Employment Statistics (CES) customer outreach survey questions and response options—continued

17. Fewer revisions to the seasonally adjusted data—i.e., revising less than 2 months of seasonally adjusted data each month using updated seasonal factors—would be helpful for my analyses.

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

18. Revisions of any kind are problematic for my analyses.

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

19. How useful would it be to you to have access to some, or all, earlier versions of historical CES data as originally published, in addition to the currently available revised data?

A little useful
No opinion/not sure
Not at all useful
Somewhat useful
Very useful

20. What can we do to better meet your needs in the area of revisions to data?

No suggestions
Please enter any suggestions in the space below

21. Based on your experience using BLS CES data and publications, please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.

a. Data are available for the industry or sector I require

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

b. Data are available for the geographic area I require

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

c. Data are easy to find

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

d. Data are easy to download

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

e. Data are in the file format I need

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

f. Data release schedules are easy to find

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

22. Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about BLS articles and research summaries that describe industry employment.

a. Articles and research summaries are available on topics that interest me

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

b. Articles and research summaries are easy to understand

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

23. Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about BLS news releases that describe industry employment.

a. News releases provide useful information

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

b. News releases are easy to understand

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

24. Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about BLS documentation for the CES survey.

a. Documentation explaining Industry employment concepts, sources, and methods is easy to find

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

b. Survey concepts, sources, and methods are explained in a way that I understand

Agree
Disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
No basis to decide
Strongly agree
Strongly disagree

25. Why don’t you currently use BLS CES data? (Check all that apply)

I was unaware of the data
Data have no application to my work
Data are not available for the industry or sector I require
Revisions to data are problematic for my work
Data are not explained and/or presented clearly enough
Data are difficult to locate/BLS CES-related web pages are difficult to navigate
Data are not in the file format I need
Other (please specify)

26. What can we do that would enable you to use CES data?

No suggestions
Please enter your suggestions in the space below

27. Have you ever contacted BLS staff for help with CES data?

No
Yes

28. How have you contacted BLS staff about CES data? (Check all that apply)

Website (“contact us” link)
Direct email
Telephone call
Other (please specify)

29. Did you receive a timely reply?

No
Yes

30. How satisfied were you with the reply?

Dissatisfied
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
Satisfied
Very dissatisfied
Very satisfied

31. Do you have any additional comments, positive or negative, regarding your interaction with BLS staff about CES data?

No additional comments
Please enter your comments in the space below

32. Do you use other sources of industry employment data?

No
Yes, please list the source(s) in the space below

33. Which category below best describes the organization at which you work or study?

University
Research organization
Financial institution
News media
U.S. government
State government
Local government
Chamber of Commerce
Non-U.S. government or international organization
Industry or trade association
Labor union
Data supplier/repackager
Internet blog
Private citizen
Private business not listed above
Other (please specify)

34. We appreciate any additional comments or feedback you may have about BLS CES data.

Please enter your comments in the space below

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Appendix table A-2. Current Employment Statistics (CES) customer outreach survey questions used to classify respondents as basic, intermediate, or super data users
QuestionAnswerClassificationReasoning
4. Which CES publications or files do you use?Technical notes, Monthly Labor Review articles3: Super userUsing the technical notes or accessing Monthly Labor Review articles indicates the respondent is interested in deeper analysis and understanding of CES data.
4. Which CES publications or files do you use?Tables and charts (including online tables, analytical tables, etc.), CES Highlights2: Intermediate userUsing tables and charts or CES Highlights indicates the respondent is familiar enough with CES data to find and access these items and wants to review some basic analysis of the data.
4. Which CES publications or files do you use?Checked off 7 or more publications or files3: Super userUsing 7 or more publications or files indicates the respondent is interested in many aspects of CES data and is interested in a deeper understanding of the data.
4. Which CES publications or files do you use?Checked off between 3 and 6 publications or files2: Intermediate userUsing between 3 and 6 publications or files indicates the respondent is interested in some analysis and explanation but not necessarily as in-depth an understanding as those who use 7 or more.
4. Which CES publications or files do you use?Checked off 0–2 publications or files1: Basic userUsing between 0 and 2 publications or files indicates the respondent is interested in CES data but not necessarily any further analysis or understanding.
7. How often have you accessed CES data from the BLS website in the past 12 months?More than 12 times3: Super userFrequently accessing the data indicates the respondent is very interested in and is likely knowledgeable of CES data.
7. How often have you accessed CES data from the BLS website in the past 12 months?6–12 times2: Intermediate userAccessing the data between once every other month and once every month indicates the respondent is interested in and is likely moderately knowledgeable of CES data.
7. How often have you accessed CES data from the BLS website in the past 12 months?1 – 5 times1: Basic userAccessing the data fewer times than once every other month is an indication that the respondent is not very interested in or knowledgeable of CES data.
7. How often have you accessed CES data from the BLS website in the past 12 months?I haven’t accessed CES data from the BLS website in the past 12 months1: Basic userNot accessing the data likely means the respondent is not a very interested data user.
10. Do you think the process of revising the data improves or lowers its quality?Improves quality/has no effect on quality/ lowers quality2: Intermediate userHaving an opinion on whether revisions improve or lower data quality likely means the respondent uses CES data enough to know what revisions are and how it impacts their analysis.
10. Do you think the process of revising the data improves or lowers its quality?Don’t know/no response1: Basic userHaving no opinion on whether revisions improve or lower data quality likely means the respondent is not very familiar with CES data.
13. How would you rate your knowledge of the revisions made to CES data?Very knowledgeable/somewhat knowledgeable3: Super userClassifying oneself as having high knowledge of CES revisions indicates the respondent is a high level user.
13. How would you rate your knowledge of the revisions made to CES data?A little knowledgeable2: Intermediate userClassifying oneself as having a little knowledge of CES revisions indicates the respondent is not a high level user but is more than a basic user.
13. How would you rate your knowledge of the revisions made to CES data?Not at all knowledgeable/no response1: Basic userHaving no knowledge of CES revisions likely indicates the respondent does not use CES data often.
19. How useful would it be to you to have access to some, or all, earlier versions of historical CES data as originally published, in addition to the currently available revised data?Very useful/somewhat useful/a little useful/not at all useful2: Intermediate userHaving an opinion on access to earlier versions of data likely means the respondent uses CES data enough to know that the original data are not currently available on the BLS site.
19. How useful would it be to you to have access to some, or all, earlier versions of historical CES data as originally published, in addition to the currently available revised data?No opinion/not sure/no response1: Basic userNot having an opinion on access to earlier versions of data likely means the respondent is not familiar with what is currently available.
32. Do you use other sources of industry employment data?Yes, please list the source(s) in the space below2: Intermediate userKnowledge and use of another form of industry employment likely means the respondent is a higher level user.
32. Do you use other sources of industry employment data?No/no response1: Basic userNo knowledge or no use of another form of industry employment means the respondent isn't likely to be a higher level user.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Suggested citation:

Jennifer Chi and Kerrie Leslie, "Analysis of the Current Employment Statistics program using customer outreach survey results," Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2015, https://doi.org/10.21916/mlr.2015.2.

Notes


1 Throughout this paper, the term CES data users refers to the people who use CES data in analysis or otherwise. The term CES data providers refers to the people or businesses that report data to be used in the calculation of CES data.

2 CES sent prompts to CES data providers to gauge the data providers’ knowledge of the program they provide data to. The goal of this paper is not to analyze the data providers’ responses, but the data users’ responses.

3 Although it was noted as a way to retrieve CES data by respondents of this outreach survey, the ADP National Employment Report does not use actual CES data, but instead uses data compiled and published by ADP. FRED is a database maintained by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Board and contains actual CES published data.

4 Additional BLS subscriptions are available, including news release alerts, at www.subscriptions.bls.gov/accounts/USDOLBLS/subscriber/new.

5 For more information on revisions to CES data, see www.bls.gov/ces/cesrevinfo.htm.

6 Because of the customer satisfaction focus of this paper, further analysis of responses from data providers’ was not presented.

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About the Author

Jennifer Chi
chi.jennifer@bls.gov

Jennifer Chi is an economist in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Kerrie Leslie
leslie.kerrie@bls.gov

Kerrie Leslie is an economist in the Office of Prices and Living Conditions, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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